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Rutgers volleyball set to take part in Big Orange Bash

Seniors setter Inna Balyko, right side hitter Kamila Cieslik, sophomore libero Madyson Chitty and the Rutgers volleyball team head to South Carolina this weekend to take part in the Big Orange Bash.  – Photo by

As it continues one of its best starts to a season to date, the Rutgers women’s volleyball team will travel to Clemson, South Carolina to participate in the Big Orange Bash this weekend.

The Scarlet Knights (7-2, 0-0) will only be playing two games in the tournament, as compared to three in the past three tournaments, with matchups against East Tennessee State and the host, Clemson. Both games are scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively. 

Rutgers comes into this tournament having completed two sweeps the past weekend and five overall, the program’s most since 2012. The Knights have dropped just nine sets so far this season.  

The team’s success has in large part been due to its veteran leaders, namely senior setter Inna Balyko, senior right side hitter Beka Kojadinovic and senior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara.

Through nine games, Balyko has provided Rutgers with an average of 9.9 assists per set, the ninth highest in the Big Ten, while Kojadinovic has recorded a team-high 102 kills. McNamara, on the other hand, has proven to be a defensive cornerstone, averaging 1.44 blocks per set which ranks sixth in the Big Ten and 21st in the entire nation

Looking at the Knights’ upcoming opponents, the Buccaneers (3-5, 0-0) and the Tigers (4-3, 0-0) have a combined record of 7-8. Statistically, Rutgers has fared better in hitting percentage, assists per set, digs per set and blocks per set than both sides. East Tennessee State has suffered four sweeps in its eight games, the most out of the three sides in the tournament. 

With the conclusion of this tournament, the Knights will transition from non-conference to Big Ten play, starting on Sept. 24 against Penn State. Rutgers has 20 conference matchups scheduled between now and November, with exactly half being played at home. Out of those 10, six are set to be played at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Livingston campus.

“We are never not going to play under pressure in the Big Ten,” said head volleyball coach Caitlin Schweihofer. “There’s going to be a large attendance, there’s going to be television audiences, there’s going to be high-level volleyball and competitors and we have to learn how to play under pressure.”

For updates on the Rutgers volleyball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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